Tuesday, February 2, 2016

GLASS AS ART - Just off the Road

 The Chihuly Glass Garden at the Seattle Center is one of those places that leaves one speechless.  How it is possible to turn simple glass into breath-taking art is a mystery, but our visit to the garden even caused our 13-year old grandson to stop talking for a while.

The garden is located in the shadow of the Space Needle, and the glass on the outside provides some pretty interesting reflections.  It's hard to find words to explain the effect they have on one's heart.

This chandelier is comprised of a series of swirly glass pieces that leave me wondering how in the world they put it together and get it to hang so perfectly.  I'm so glad we moved to this amazing area!

BEAUTIFUL PICTURES - Just off the Road

 One of our finds as the year ended was the beautiful Japanese Garden at the University of Washington in Seattle.  This place is inspiring in so many ways, and we're so blessed to have it nearby.

Our main reason for visiting was so that my photographer spouse could hone his eye as he chose from scenic shots all around.him  The good news for me is that they don't allow tripods in the garden, since the paths are relatively narrow and the tripod would create a tripping hazard.

Consequently, I observed him as he crouched, kneeled, sat, and otherwise contorted his body to get the shot.  Believe me, it was worth it.  He's turning into quite the plotographer, and I'm proud to carry his tripod anywhere.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

AUTUMN - Just off the Road

 On our recent visit to the Japanese Garden in Seattle, I was stopped in my tracks by this almost unreal Japanese maple tree.  Living in Alaska for so many years, I'd almost forgotten that autumn can last more than a week.  The variety of trees around here may not be as great as on the East Coast, but they're beautiful none the less, and I feel the emotion that the season always brings to me as I wander through the leaves.
 I'm not sure how these Ornamental Carp (Koi) feel about autumn.  It's unlikely that their pond will freeze in Seattle, but I wonder if they dislike the feeling of the water growing cooler as the season progresses.
One thing is certain, these cormorants won't let any cold weather stop them from perching on the ferry pilings, keeping a lookout for any likely lunch, or maybe they're just waiting for the next boat.  When I think about it, I realize that with each passing day I grow to love this place more.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

GETTYSBURG - Just off the Road

On my recent visit to Pennsylvania, I visited my favorite place in the state - Gettysburg National Military Park.  Each time I visit, I find myself moved in ways that surprise me.  The National Park Service is doing an amazing job of maintaining this hallowed place in the condition that existed at the time of the battle.  There's a diorama created in 1884 that represents Pickett's Charge and high water mark of the confederacy.

 There are many monuments commemorating those who fought.  Each state that participated has erected a memorial with the most impressive being this one for Pennsylvania.

The most moving site for me is the Devil's Den, where Federal and Confederate troops attempted to take the ground between Little and Big Round Tops.  The pictures taken after the battle include bodies strewn among the rocks. 

In my family archives is a letter written by one of my ancestors who took part in various Civil War battles.  But there's more than that connection for me when I visit Gettysburg.  As I stand where Abraham Lincoln once stood and read the words of his address, I realize that the phrase "freedom is not free" is truth personified here on this hallowed ground.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

SLOWING DOWN - Just off the Road

I was born and grew up in rural Pennsylvania with a Pennsylvania Dutch heritage.  Recently I visited my brother and his family who still live in the same area.  Now don't get me wrong, we were not Amish and did not get around by horse-drawn carriages, but on my visit, I was somehow comforted to see that, in this day of technology threatening to take over, some people still find that horses go just fast enough.

As I sat and watched this one-horse mode travel down the road, my mind took me back to simpler times, when hurrying from pillar to post wasn't as important as smelling the roses.  As I age I've slowed down from my younger pace, but there are still moments when I feel rushed, stressed, pressed for time.

I've made a vow that, when those times crowd in on me, I'll take a moment and picture myself moving down the road, enjoying the clop-clop of horse's hooves, smelling the roses along the way.

RURAL LIFE- Just off the Road

 Rural Central Pennsylvania is different!  On my recent visit to my brother's house, I woke one morning to the sound of turkeys.  Bob and Brenda don't own any turkeys so I was confused until he told me that his neighbor owns turkeys.

These are free-range turkeys in the truest sense of the word, in that they range the neighborhood, searching for the random bird seed dropped from Brenda's feeders.  How they discovered this treasure from across the road and down a way is beyond me. 

 Bob and Brenda rescued a duck from a grandchild who really loved it as a duckling, but not so much when it started doing grown-up duck things.  They installed it, strangely named Duck Brown, in the pen with their goat (told you it was rural) and the two have become fast friends.

Goaty-Goat is one-of-a-kind.  He loves the duck, but hates Brenda and will come after her should she dare to enter his terrain.  Another of Brenda's loves is cats, and she's succumbed to the need to care for all the feral cats in the neighborhood, feeding around 30 at last count.  I remember when I was small we had lots of "barn cats" as we called them.  We'd occasionally pour them a bowl of milk but their diet consisted of mice, rats, birds, or anything they'd scavenge.  Not good enough for Brenda, she provides two daily meals and even warms milk replacer for the runts of the litters.

Well, I guess if those eyes were gazing beseechingly at me, I might just accidentally drop a bag of cat food in my cart...  Love the country!

Saturday, September 19, 2015

TORTOISES - Just off the Road

     Evan's fascination with turtles has been fulfilled!  He got up close and personal and even he was intrigued with how big they are, and how docile.  Never one to be close enough, he found another way to really get inside their head, as it were...
     Evan is a tall 5'9" and as you can see, he fits pretty nicely into this tortoise shell, though the getting out was worth watching!  They really are huge, and did I say docile? 
     It appears that these two are having a difference of opinion, with the more aggressive one on the right eventually backing down the smaller model on the left.
     This saddle-backed tortoise has adapted to a different diet of Opuntia cactus that grow high above the ground and must be reached by extending one's neck.  I think I'm beginning to get the idea of where Charles Darwin is coming from.